Endurance exercises cause us to breathe hard. Maybe you know this type of exercise as cardio or aerobics. No matter what we call it, it’s cardiovascular exercise, meaning we’re using our cardiovascular and respiratory systems, which include the heart, blood vessels, and lungs.
Doing cardio increases heart and breathing rates from resting rates, improving endurance, cardiovascular and respiratory health, and physical fitness. Key components include the mode, intensity, and frequency of endurance exercise. Some examples include walking, running, and riding a bicycle.
How do you choose which endurance exercise is best for you? Look around.
What’s available? It might be a gym, park, swimming pool, or stairs. You can run on a treadmill or elliptical machine or outside in a park. You can climb on a stair-master in the gym or run up and down the stairs.
What are you able to do and what do you enjoy? Maybe you are unable to run and you would prefer to walk. Pick up the pace and walk a bit faster. Maybe you were a dancer as a child; go to a barre class and get your heart rate up.
Maybe you really don’t like cardio. Try getting to places early and walk around to kill time. Park far away from wherever you’re going or get off the subway a stop or two early to keep your heart rate up for a little while longer.
Maybe you get bored of doing the same exercises over and over. Mix it up! Ride a bike instead of running. Try different exercise classes…sometimes this will even save you money! Gyms and studios love to give discounts to first time students.
And…what do you want and/or need to get out of endurance exercise? Maybe you want to improve your daily energy levels. As we improve our endurance, our ability to perform daily activities increases because it is easier to breathe.
Each person’s endurance training is different, so it’s important to be conscious of our bodies as we increase amount of time or intensity of endurance exercises. If you haven’t been aerobically active in a while, take time getting back into aerobic activity. Like I’ve said about other forms of activity, take baby steps. Drink plenty of fluids. Dress in appropriate layers whether you’re running outside or inside. Exercise outdoors during the day or in well lit areas at night. Warm up. Exercise. Cool down. Stretch.
Where you begin depends on initial your fitness level, age, medication, and medical conditions. Start with 10-15 minutes of walking and gradually work up to 30 minutes per day. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Combine endurance training with flexibility, strength, and balance exercises to improve overall physical fitness. But first, consult with a doctor, physical therapist, or a well-educated personal trainer to make sure your body is up for the challenge.